August 23

Using a Blog in the School Library

This year I have been working with six students on their reading. Each is at vastly different stages of their reading journey and participate in other more structured reading intervention experiences than just their time with me.

I wonder if we could start blogging about the books we read in our group. I could provide a prompt for them, or they could write their own reflections if they are confident. This process could improve their social skills within a group, and give the quieter readers a voice (Morris, 2018), as they start to comment on each other’s posts. They have already proven that they enjoy using their Chromebooks for learning, as we have done a Padlet activity, and read some eBooks.


Morris, K. (2018). Why teachers and students should blog: 18 benefits of educational blogging. Primary Tech.

May 5

Theoretical Stance on Literature Teaching

Reflect on your personal theoretical stance and how this is evidenced in your practice.

Beach, Appleman, Fecho, Simon, Hynds, and Wilhelm (2011, pp. 6-9) outline three primary theories of learning – Transmission Theories, Student-centered Theory, and Socio-cultural Learning Theory.

I certainly disagree with the practices associated with Transmission theories, especially in the literature space. Simply ‘knowing’ things about literature ignores the magic of reading and the many ways that different people experience different stories. Furthermore, it is hard enough already to get kids motivated to learn without forcing ‘knowledge’ down their throats. Students must have more of a say in what and how they learn, otherwise, it’s an uphill battle!

So, I like to think a mixture of Student-centered Theory and Socio-cultural Theory is a better way to go. We need to rejig school work so that students have more choice in the what and the how, and ensure that they have a chance to collaborate, communicate and learn with their peers.

In my current role as a Library SSO, I don’t do any ‘teaching’. Therefore, it is difficult to note how my theoretical stance plays out in practice. Simply reflecting here, though, means that if I took some small groups to examine literature, I would put on my student-focussed, socio-cultural glasses when planning.


Beach, R., Appleman, D., Fecho, B., Simon, R., Hynds, S., & Wilhelm, J. (2011). Teaching literature to adolescents. Retrieved from ProQuest Ebook Central.

March 18

A Fiction v Non-fiction Smackdown

Is tension between fiction and non-fiction a trend you have seen in your workplace?

Over the course of my time at Willsden Primary School in 2014, 2015 and 2017, I observed, from a distance, not so much a “smackdown” between fiction and non-fiction books (Mosle, 2012, para. 8) but a never-ending directional change. The changes occurred in the context of reading assessments, in particular, whether or not students should be tested using only fiction texts, only non-fiction texts, or a balanced mixture of both.

Initially, reading assessments were conducted using only fiction texts as it was assumed that this was the type of text that students had been most exposed to and, therefore, were most likely to achieve success with. Non-fiction texts set up for assessments were available but used rarely, as a backup to fiction.

Soon, it became apparent that students weren’t building on the skills they needed to successfully read non-fiction texts, even though the school’s reading results were improving. A new policy was agreed upon – fiction texts were to be used in terms 1 and 3, non-fiction texts were to be used in terms 2 and 4.

When students read non-fiction texts they:

  • grow and build on their interest in the topic.
  • see and reflect on examples of nonfiction writing.
  • upskill in comprehension, questioning and summarising strategies.

(National Library of NZ, 2014)

When comprehension became a school focus, some staff argued that teaching comprehension through non-fiction texts would be easier and build a foundation for students’ comprehension of fiction texts.

I believe that the school has stuck to its two-term fiction / two-term non-fiction policy, although the way that reading assessments are being conducted is changing dramatically. Soon, a flexible arrangement may be implemented. In this case, the teacher may use professional judgement as to which type of book is used for an assessment at any given time with a particular student.

I worry that by placing an emphasis on either fiction or nonfiction texts, students will have gaps in their skill base. As such, achieving balance between fiction and non-fiction in the library collection is important (Giavenco, 2019).

To fulfill K-5 standards in The United States, teachers must ensure they teach a 50-50 balance between fiction and non-fiction (Common Core State Standards Initiative, 2019, para. 14). In contrast, the Australian Curriculum does not mandate an exact percentage balance, although it calls for students to experience a wide range of relevant literary texts, including “fiction for young adults and children” and “a variety of non-fiction” (ACARA, 2019, para. 12). Clearly, the library collection must have a balanced mixture of both to support the requirements of the curriculum.


ACARA. (2019). Key ideas | The Australian Curriculum. Retrieved from

Common Core State Standards Initiative. (2019). Key Shifts in English Language Arts. Retrieved from

Giavenco, G. (2019). 2.2 The Balanced Collection. In ETL503: Resourcing the Curriculum, [Learning module]. Retrieved from Charles Sturt University website:

Mosle, S. (2012, November 22). What Should Children Read? [Blog Post]. Opinionator: The New York Times. Retrieved from

National Library of New Zealand. (2014). Non-fiction. National Library of New Zealand Services to Schools. Retrieved from